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Olive growing regions are all over the world: Greece, Argentina, France, Italy, Turkey, Portugal, Tunisia, Morocco, and even California. But I have never seen a country that protects this liquid gold as Spaniards do. There are around 32 protected areas, and good olive oils can range from $15 to $100+ per bottle.

I’ve been studying this topic for a long time, but the most rewarding experience was spending a day with Rosa Vaño, president of Castillo de Canena, the most awarded olive oil in Spain, produced in the magical region of Andalucía. She inspired me to fine-tune this list for you.

It’s not about money

If you shop by price, you lose quality, flavor, and health benefits. Start spending more on your olive oil. There are many cheap, low-quality, and chemically processed oils.

Storage & expiration date

Light, heat, and oxygen are enemies of oil. Buy a dark glass bottle and don’t forget to check the “best before” date. Oil loses aroma, flavor, properties, and oxidizes over time.

Buy from a trusted source

Buy online, directly from the producer, or from a gourmet store. Look for the type of olive used, make sure it comes from only one region, and if it has a regional certification like DOP/PDO or IGP/PGI, even better.

Look for extra virgin on the label

EVOO does not require any chemical processing to become edible. Avoid the “Pure,” “Light,” and “Extra Light” on the label. These oils have serious defects and are chemically altered before they add extra virgin olive oil to add flavor!

What makes it extra virgin?

It must meet strict quality parameters set by the International Olive Council (IOC).

Cold extraction

“Cold extraction” and “first cold-pressed” are the same. All EVOO has to be produced in cold temperatures and only from oil from the first press.

the kitchen doesnt bite 10 things you need to know about extra virgin olive oil

Acid value & its cost

Free fatty acid value goes up depending on how the olives were picked, treated, and how soon the extraction starts. Extra virgin olive oil must have a value under 0.8%. The best quality ones are under 0.5%, and the top ones can be as low as 0.1%. Search for the best! Obviously, a lot of effort goes into collecting and picking fresh, healthy olives, and the costs make a difference that we have to respect.


Just like wine, there are hundreds of olive varieties, each one has a different color, aroma, flavor, and health benefits. The most famous varieties in Spain are, for example, Arbequina (smooth and buttery), Hojiblanca (sweet and spicy with green notes), and Picual (bitter, the strongest one). Trust me, they are all different! If you find a blend of these called “coupage,” that’s good too.

Is healthy!

Of all the edible oils, EVOO has one of the highest levels of monounsaturated fatty acids. Studies have shown that consumption of these acids makes extra virgin olive oil without question the healthiest of all fats. The list of benefits is endless, even helping with your heart, caloric restriction, depression, inflammations, fighting against cancer, combating aging, and more!

Yes, you can cook with olive oil!

I use it for everything, even for my toast in the morning! Actually sautéing, frying, and baking too. It can be used to elevate all your dishes. Frying temperature does not alter the chemical composition if kept below the smoke point (370°-405°F). For grilling, use it to finish your meats or vegetables. A flavorful extra virgin olive oil can replace butter on any dish!

Bring quality, health, and flavor to your kitchen!

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